The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) has announced the successful recruitment of a broad slate of top scientists, as the first part of a bold new recruitment initiative called “STRAP” (Special Trans-Disciplinary Recruitment Award Program).
The initiative is a bold, new effort to recruit teams of some of the most talented physicians and scientists, with the primary goal of significantly catalyzing the school’s focus on accelerating discoveries, cures, and therapeutics for the most serious diseases that cause morbidity, mortality, and disability. STRAP specifies that the school will recruit scores of well-funded teams of scientists at all faculty ranks by the year 2020, as part of Vision 2020, the shared strategic goals established by the School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical System.
The new teams of scientists will bring federal funding of nearly $30 million (more than $11 million annually) in total grants and contracts to the school, which surpassed $400 million in total research funding in 2016.
Many of the new scientists will be housed in the new 450,000-square-foot, $305 million state-of-the art research facility on West Baltimore Street, Health Sciences Facility III. The facility will be finished by the end of this year and occupied in early 2018. Health Sciences Facility III will feature among the most advanced laboratories and medical research technology found anywhere. University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, pointed out that the new building is a major asset to the school’s research portfolio and will be most appealing to leading scientists who wish to have a state-of-the-art research facility for conducting discovery-based medicine in a collaborative manner and at a very high level of sophistication.
“We are off to a tremendous start with the STRAP Initiative, and are very excited to be able to attract these first teams of outstanding individuals who are nationally and internationally recognized in their respective fields,” said Reece. “The University of Maryland School of Medicine is being recognized as a magnet institution for individuals interested in pursuing possible cures and treatments for the most critical and complex diseases that we face around the world.”
The program is the most significant and ambitious effort to recruit scientists in the school’s 210-year history. It signifies an aggressive move by the school to advance in the top echelon of leading biomedical research institutions in the nation. In particular, the school is targeting top researchers and physician scientists who will help to accelerate breakthrough discoveries in critical areas, including brain disorders, cancer, and cardiovascular-metabolic diseases. The initiative will lead to rich, collaborative research programs across the School of Medicine, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the University System, Reece noted.
Experts in Lung Injury
Stephen N. Davis, MBBS, the Dr. Theodore E. Woodward Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine; Jeffrey D. Hasday, MD, the Dr. Herbert Berger Endowed Professor of Medicine and division head, pulmonary & critical care medicine; and Peter Rock, MD, MBA, the Dr. Martin A. Helrich Professor and chair of anesthesiology; with collaboration from Thomas M. Scalea, MD, the Hon. Francis X. Kelly Distinguished Professor in Trauma Surgery, director of the program in trauma, and physician-in-chief at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center; and Scott M. Thompson, PhD, professor and chair, Department of Physiology, announced the addition of two top pulmonary scientists:
Konstantin Birukov, MD, PhD, comes to the school from the University of Chicago School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of medicine in the Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care. He is a leading expert on the molecular mechanisms regulating lung vascular permeability, the role of mechanical forces and oxidized phospholipidome in development and recovery of lung function, and innovative strategies to prevent acute lung injury. Prior to the University of Chicago, he was a research associate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He has authored or co-authored more than 120 peer-reviewed papers and reviews, as well as two book chapters, and has four patents. Birukov will have his primary appointment in the school's Department of Anesthesiology, and a secondary appointment in the Department of Medicine, and serve as director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Lung Biology Research Program.
Anna Birukova, MD, is a widely published investigator in several areas, including the regulation of lung vascular permeability and inflammation by microtubules, microtubule-associated signaling molecules, and new ways to protect the lungs from acute injury. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, she was an associate professor of medicine in the Section for Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. Prior to that, she was a research associate at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and reviews and has written three book chapters. Birukova will have her primary appointment in the UMSOM Department of Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Anesthesiology, and serve as associate director of the Lung Biology Research Program.
The team comes to the UMSOM with $4.35 million in total research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (more than $2 million annually).
Top Investigators in Muscle and Tendon Formation
In the Department of Orthopaedics, Andrew N. Pollak, MD, the James Lawrence Kernan Professor and Chair, has led the effort to recruit a team of leading orthopaedics researchers:
Masahiro Iwamoto, DDS, PhD, is an acclaimed scientist who has focused on the development of articular cartilage, the regulation of bone growth, and the repair of muscle, cartilage, and other connective tissue. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, he was a research associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Prior to that, he was an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Iwamoto has earned four patents, and has authored or co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed papers.
Motomi Enomoto-Iwamoto, DDS, PhD, comes from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where she was a research associate professor in orthopaedic surgery. She is an accomplished investigator who studies the cellular and signaling mechanisms that regulate skeletal development and function, the cellular pathways that lead to cartilage tumors and osteoarthritis, and the role of local progenitor cells in articular cartilage and tendon repair. Prior to CHOP, she was an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University. Iwamoto has earned four patents, and has authored or co-authored more than 70 peer-reviewed papers.
The team joins the UMSOM faculty with more than $2.7 million in total research funding from the NIH ($675,000 annually).
Leading Neuroscientist in Brain Development
In the Department of Pharmacology, Margaret M. McCarthy, PhD, professor and chair, and Bankole A. Johnson, DSc, MD, MB, ChB, MPhil, the Dr. Irving J. Taylor Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry, have announced the addition of a nationally recognized neuroscientist:
Tracy L. Bale, PhD, is a leading expert on the links between stress and subsequent risk for neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and schizophrenia in offspring. Her innovative studies use molecular techniques to determine the mechanisms by which this may occur. Her studies on the placenta have revealed novel sex differences that may predict increased prenatal risk for disease in males. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, she was a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the School of Veterinary Medicine. She is the co-director of the Specialized Center for Research on Women’s Health and Penn PROMOTES. She serves as chair of an NIH study section, is a reviewing editor for the Journal of Neuroscience, and serves on the Congressional Committee on Gulf War Veterans Health. She has authored or co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed papers.
Bale brings nearly $4.5 million in total research funding from the NIH ($1.9 million annually).
Top Team in Imaging and Spectroscopy
In the Department of Diagnostic Radiology & Nuclear Medicine, Elias Melhem, MD, the Dean John M. Dennis Chair in Radiology, has announced a team of top investigators from Hawaii.
Linda Chang, MD, MS, FAAN, FANA, is a highly acclaimed physician-scientist coming to the University of Maryland, Baltimore from the University of Hawaii, where she was a professor of medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu, as well as director of the school’s Neuroscience and Magnetic Resonance Research Program. After receiving her MD degree from Georgetown University, she became an assistant professor, and then an associate professor of neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. Chang has done research on a range of topics, including how methamphetamine and other drugs affect the brain and cognition, the neurological effects of HIV/AIDS and how aging affects the brain. During her career, she has authored or co-authored 200 peer-reviewed papers, and has written nearly 30 book chapters and monographs. She also has delivered 175 lectures, grand rounds, workshops, and symposia.
Thomas Ernst, PhD, was also a professor of medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. Ernst earned a PhD degree in physics from the University of Freiburg in Germany. He has focused on several areas of research, including the development of strategies to minimize motion sensitivity of magnetic resonance and other imaging techniques, and to improve the overall precision of these techniques; the use of imaging to study HIV-related brain disease, the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, and overall brain development. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, more than 10 book chapters, and has given dozens of lectures and seminars.
The team brings $9.2 million in total research funding from the NIH (nearly $3 million annually).
Leader in Bioengineering and Artificial Organs
In the Department of Surgery, Stephen T. Bartlett, MD, the Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor and Chair in Surgery, and Bartley Griffith, MD, the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Transplant Surgery, announced that a top bioengineering scientist is returning to the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Zhongjun Jon Wu, PhD, is an internationally recognized authority on the development of artificial organs, ventricular assist devices, blood pumps, artificial lungs, and respiratory assist devices. He was an assistant and associate professor at the School of Medicine from 2003 to 2014, when he became a professor of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. His primary areas of research are in blood flow, flow visualization, blood damage, cell mechanics, cardiac biomechanics, hemodynamics; biological responses to artificial organs in human and animals; and stem cell therapies for heart and lung diseases. He has earned or applied for 10 patents and has authored or co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed papers.
Wu brings nearly $1.6 million in total research funding from the NIH (more than $660,000 annually).
Academic Leader in Physical Therapy
In the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Mark Rogers, PhD, PT, professor and department chair, along with Department of Orthopaedics Chair Andrew Pollak, MD, announced the addition of a top research scientist in physical medicine and rehabilitation science.
Li-Qun Zhang, PhD, is a senior research scientist who joins the School of Medicine faculty as professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Orthopaedics. Zhang was previously a professor in the departments of physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopaedic surgery, and biomedical engineering at Northwestern University. He also served as director of ortho biomech research at Northshore University Health System and senior research scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He is widely published and speaks internationally on his research related to biomechanics and biomedical engineering.
Throughout his research career, he has consistently received annual NIH funding and currently holds $2.7 million total in grants ($833,000 annually) from the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
University of Maryland School of Medicine is a Major Global Research Enterprise
With more than $400 million in total extramural research funding last year, the School of Medicine now ranks among the top research intensive institutions nationally. Key advances since the school celebrated its bicentennial in 2007 include:
- Establishment of individual research centers and institutes focused on the study of genomic sciences, human virology, stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, shock trauma and anesthesiology, biomolecular therapeutics, and global health;
- Extensive research in transplantation leading to breakthroughs in face, kidney, and lung transplants;
- Breakthrough development of major vaccines for Ebola, malaria, MERS, and cholera, and the start of clinical trials for a new HIV vaccine;
- Creation of the Center for Health-related Informatics and Bioimaging in collaboration with the University of Maryland, College Park to manage “big data”;
- Roll-out of Shared Vision 2020 with the University of Maryland Medical System, establishing benchmark goals for education, research, clinical care, and public outreach;
- Launch of the annual research symposium, “Festival of Science,” and formation of the UMSOM Scientific Advisory Council, made up of Nobel laureates;
- Formation of the Brain Science Research Consortium Unit – the first School of Medicine multidisciplinary consortium unit focusing on “big science”;
- Establishment of centralized core laboratories to assist departments in conducting a broad range of basic science and clinical studies: the Center for Innovative Biomedical/ Imaging Resources (CIBR);
- Completion of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center, the first in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region utilizing the most advanced form of cancer treatment;
- The National Cancer Institute’s designation of the UM Greenebaum Cancer Center as a “Comprehensive Cancer Center;”
- Construction of Heath Sciences Facility III, the largest building on the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus.